The above language from Deuteronomy 25:10 stood out this a.m. in my annual read through scripture. Whether such a linear devotional practice has paid off for me stands to be determined. Yet after 40 years, it seems that my greatest revelation often springs from the mention of such austere rules.
The text references the shame that accompanied a sibling unwilling to sustain a family member’s lineage. “This is what is done to the man who will not build upon his brothers’ family line.” (Deut. 25:9). City elders would then allow the surviving spouse to offer herself to other near-kin, upon which time the sibling refusing is relieved of responsibility, but only after removing his sandal and being spit upon by those in authority.
Being barren was the ultimate Hebrew shame, the potential plight of Judah’s daughter-in-law as well as with Ruth and her near kinsman, Boaz. If God’s nature is the author of such curse, why would God chose that lineage for the Messiah, the Christ? The legalist must either deny the Christ or consider that scripture both captures the best of God and the worst of man. Unfortunately, the latter is often transferred to the nature of God by the same broken men inspired to write about God! Otherwise, God breaks His own rules?
As I age, I am less inclined to follow the rules of religion, often meant to protect the image of God, as if God needs our help! Perhaps some maverick spirit has possessed me, but I base my thoughts upon a long journey with a merciful God, unwilling that any should perish. No other being has ever changed the course of the world like Jesus, and His very words were, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” No other name has every provoked such angst when mentioned. There is “something about that name.”
The stories around this man’s life cannot be denied given the miraculous power displayed, his compassion for others and the impact upon His followers. Men and women risked their lives daily just to be in his presence a few more moments. Even after His death and until this day, the devoted still offer themselves as living sacrifices and often face brutal deaths to carry on His name.
My own life would perhaps be easier, if, I chose not to adhere to the Word spoken daily to my heart. I cannot get away from my life experience, the miracles and the mercy. All this compounds the revelation from this phenomenally mysterious book, the Bible. Daily as I read, I find myself challenged by my unseen Friend, the Lion of Judah, the offspring of Boaz; Jesus, the One born out of “The Family of the Unsandaled.”